April 04, 2013

TV: American Idol 2013: Classic Rock

A day late getting to this week's show, thanks to the demands of life. The results will be known by the time I finish watching the DVR'd show, but I promise not to peek.

It's Classic Rock tonight, and "no ballads," says Ryan. That makes this the third week in a row in which music that the contestants might actually remember from their own lives is off limits. Are they any more likely to find songs they actually know already than they did during Beatles and Detroit weeks? Let's find out, shall we?

The rundown:

Burnell, "You Give Love a Bad Name" -- Ouch. This was never going to be Burnell's strongest night. His crisp enunciation and tastefully eccentric phrasing are wildly out of place in this song, though he makes an admirable attempt to put a little growly rasp in his voice on the chorus. Not the horrific embarrassment it might have been, but he's clearly uncomfortable, and he'll be glad to have this night behind him.

Angie & Lazaro, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" -- Angie draws the short straw for this week's duets/trios. She and Lazaro aren't really singing with each other so much as they're singing beside each other; there's no connection at all. She's the perkiest little rocker in the Miss Teen Peoria 1982 pageant, he's struggling to hit notes far too low for him, and there's a patch in the middle where they both forget the words entirely. To his credit, there are a few scattered notes where Lazaro's tone has a richness and depth that's entirely new, and for those few brief moments, he doesn't completely suck.

Kree, "Piece of My Heart" -- It's very well sung, but on the bland side emotionally. Where's the anger, the passion, the fury? If Kree has a weakness, it's that she sometimes coasts on her ability to hit big, impressive notes rather than dig deeper into the song to actually say something with them. Pretty notes are not enough, and that may eventually be her downfall. Probably not for another week or two, though.

Burnell & Candice, "The Letter" -- That was nice. I liked that. I had a big dumb smile on my face all the way through. Two marvelous voices, singing a song in a style that suits them both, having fun doing it. A shame Burnell couldn't have done that as his solo. (Mariah, weirdly enough, complains that they should have done something more R&B. On Classic Rock night.)

Janelle, "You May Be Right" -- That was surprisingly good, and she managed to give it just enough of a country-rock feel that it didn't seem completely alien to her. There was far more power in her lower register than I think we've heard from her before. The phrasing was a little more tidy and prissy than a real rocker's would have been, but not shamefully so.

Lazaro, "We Are the Champions" -- He did his best. It wasn't very good.

Amber, Janelle, & Kree -- "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" -- This song doesn't work at all as a trio; hearing one person plow through those long rat-a-tat lines of lyrics is half the appeal. The performance is blandly adequate, but not any more than that.

Candice, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" -- Very nicely done. Now I'm wanting the producers to throw her some other curveball -- country or Rat Pack or Broadway -- to see if there's anything she can't do at least reasonably well.

Amber, "What About Love" -- Like Burnell, Amber is giving us a karaoke performance in a genre she's not comfortable with and hasn't figured out how to make her own. This isn't quite as awkward as Burnell's song was, but she's pushing too hard for volume and she sounds strained all the way through.

Angie, "Bring Me to Life" -- Hmmm ... one of these songs is not like the others, boys and girls. It's not only of a different generation than the Classic Era, it's not nearly as interesting. As for Angie, I don't know if it's about posture or psychology or what, but she always sounds better to me when she's at the piano; the first thirty seconds of this were marvelous, then she stood up and it just became another series of very pretty great big notes. Meh.

For the night: Janelle, Candice, Kree, Angie, Amber, Burnell, Lazaro.

For the season: Candice, Kree, Janelle, Angie, Amber, Burnell, Lazaro.

Let's send home: It really should be Lazaro, and based on overall performance, there is no excuse for sending anyone else. But Burnell's performance tonight was bad enough that I fear he is in serious jeopardy. The question is whether the quality of the duet with Candice was enough to save him.

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